Claudia Siefen checked in from Vienna to see the world premiere of the Israeli film Room 514.
It is a room without a window where the director leads us. At least there is no window shown in the next 87 minutes. It must be hard to breathe in there because it is all so small, too. A few office-chairs, a table, some metal shelves and file cabinets along the walls. The elevator takes us to the 5th floor. Something uncomfortable seems to await us there. The female soldier is pushing the elevator button. That constricted cell will take her to that other one and tears start to flow. She is the ordered investigator in this case. A soldier will wait there for her and it will be her responsibility to figure out what exactly has happened.
But first it is a woman talking to a man. He does not take her seriously and from there it unfolds, that certain feeling of authority to exert power. She knows how to talk to a soldier. In this dry light she moves close to him, lowers her voice and starts talking. She knows where she wants to get him and it is only a question of time to nail him. These washed out colours, light blue and grey and beige and her blonde hair is strictly tied back. These colours and this light will stay that way but what is going on in her mind? Some fantasies pop up. Time is the elusive thing in this portrait of right an wrong. If you do something wrong does it turn out to be something good because someone told you to do that wrong thing? Are you a better person because you fulfilled expectations?
There could be glimpses of freedom while we see her taking the tube. If there had not been that cold light again and these washed-out colours, too. The investigation keeps being interrupted by her mother’s phone calls while the investigator is doing her duty. Obviously she is expected to cut it short. But ambition leads her on and on, using all the tricks she gets hold of. One second her voice is soft and touching, the next she is abusive and imperious. It is supposed to be an easy case and she wants the results fast. It is all about the results she is expected to deliver.
It is a pure chamber play and you can almost smell the thick air in that little room. The sentences are fired in the beginning but when the strength of the characters gets lost every word weighs a ton. It is all about ‘if’ and ‘when’ and there is always someone higher in rank than you. But does that free you from your responsibility? She gets stuck in that circle until the point where it is unendurable. The close photography reinforces that impression. Also words can get so wrong. There will always be a mother calling. And in the end there always seems to be someone’s mother crying.
Room 514 (Sharon Bar-Ziv, Israel 2012. 87′)